In-depth investigation of the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark. The latest on the Salisbury spy, the Bank of England and elitism, plus the social media crime detectives.
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The Foreign Secretary laid
into the Russian State today
as we await to hear what has
befallen the one time double agent,
former MI6 spy, and Russian colonel
Sergei Skripal and his daughter
Yulia, who are still
critically ill in hospital.
We're live from Salisbury.
I am in the city finding out about
the man who, we understand, it chose
Salisbury for its low crime rate and
his daughter who moved freely
between Russia and the UK.
So as the counter terrorism unit
in the Met takes over the case,
what do we actually know?
As the foreign secretary talks
about Russia as a 'malign force'
on the international scene,
the former British spy and his
daughter fight for their lives.
We'll be hearing from the chair
of the foreign affairs select
committee, and the former security
minister Baroness Neville Jones.
Also tonight, the Bank
of England Chief Economist
on addressing its elitist past?
I was probably one of the first
vintages that did not go
to Oxford or Cambridge.
That did not go to a public school.
That might come at things
from slightly different angles.
The bank I joined might not have
valued that as much.
If you look simply at social media,
you will see hundreds and hundreds
and hundreds of videos.
You need to know where and when each
one of those bits of evidence...
The architects turned forensic data
detectives who investigate
human rights abuses.
Tonight Sergei Skripal -
a former colonel
in Russian Military Intelligence
who was convicted of passing
state secrets to MI6,
and his 33-year-old daughter
Yulia, are still in a critical
condition in hospital in Salisbury.
In hospital too is one
of the emergency services personnel
who attended the scene
when they were found
unconscious in the town.
The military research facility
at Porton Down is believed to be
examining unknown material,
and the Counter Terrorism Policing
Network at the Met is now in charge
of the investigation,
but so far we know nothing
about what happened to them,
if they were poisoned,
or, if they were, by whom.
That didn't stop the Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson
addressing the Commons to say
that the disturbing incident
had echoes of the death
of Alexander Litvinenko and that
Russia, is "in many respects
a malign and disruptive force."
I'm joined by our Diplomatic Editor
Mark Urban, who has news
of a development tonight.
What have you been hearing? We have
known since Sunday afternoon when
this happened that Sergei and Yulia
were in critical condition. This
phrase has been consistently use.
What I am hearing tonight is despite
the sending of those samples to
Porton Down, that they still do not
know what poisoned this pair of
individuals on Sunday. They are very
worried about this. One said to me,
we are treating the symptoms rather
than causes and that is not a good
direction to be going on. Another
person said to me, that Sergei
Skripal was not in a good way and
there is a lot of concern about
their condition could worsen.
you. We will join you shortly.
We'll hear more from Mark Urban
shortly but now let's go live
to Salisbury where our correspondent
Katie Razzall has been looking
into the life of Sergei Skripal
and his daughter, Yulia.
Hello. I have been spending the day
in Salisbury trying to find out
about Sergei and why he chose to
live in Wiltshire in this city
predominantly known for its
wonderful cathedral. Today, things
continued almost as normal, the
market was on in the city centre,
although passers-by did appear
perplexed and been used and even a
little fearful to see parts of that
centre cordoned off and gardened --
guarded by the police. I learned
more about Yulia, who we now know
was found with her father when the
pair fell ill on Sunday afternoon.
Family and friends have told us that
although Yulia originally moved to
the UK to live with her family, she
missed Russia and now lives in
Moscow and has worked for various
multi-nationals including Pepsi. She
is the only surviving child of
Sergei Skripal. His son died,
reportedly of liver failure just
last year, his wife had died of
cancer here in the UK just five
Amongst the graves in a cemetery
in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury
lies Lyudmila Skripal.
Wife of the former Russian
colonel Sergei Skripal.
Across the grass we found
the resting place of the couple's
son who died, according
to relatives, in suspicious
circumstances in Saint
Petersburg last year.
Two Russians buried on British soil.
Their closest living relatives now
fighting for their lives
in the local hospital.
A father brought to the UK
in a spy exchange in 2010,
we discovered today the woman found
beside him in the centre
of Salisbury on Sunday afternoon
was his 33-year-old daughter Yulia.
The Skripal house was being
guarded by officers today.
A quiet cul-de-sac now
the focus of huge attention.
Newsnight has been told by a family
friend that Sergei Skripal chose
to relocate to this city
because he believed it was a good
area with a low crime rate.
We understand initially the family
moved here to Salisbury where both
adult children were able to travel
back and forth between Russia
and Wiltshire freely,
despite their father's banishment.
A family friend told Newsnight
they believed Yulia had
missed her home country.
They said they thought
she had returned to Russia.
Then in 2014 she was back in the UK
working at a hotel in Southampton,
before moving again to Russia.
We were tipped off that the city's
Railway social club has played host
to the former Russian spy.
A source had told Newsnight Mr
Skripal's only friends
were in British intelligence
but here we saw his application
A sign perhaps that he was trying
to find some kind of local life.
It tells me that he applied for
membership on the 22nd of October.
That was when we posted
it on the board.
For other people to say yes or no
to him being a member of the club.
Then it went to the committee
and they decided on the 15th
of November that yes,
he was a member, could be a member.
And so subsequently we issued him
with a membership card.
Salisbury's inhabitants are unused
to being at the centre
of an international incident.
With police today
confirming a development.
You will be aware this afternoon
the Metropolitan Police have
confirmed that due to the unusual
circumstances the counterterrorism
network will be leading this
investigation, as it has
the specialist capability
and expertise to do so.
It is important to reiterate
they have not declared this
as a terrorist incident.
As at this stage they are
keeping an open mind
as to what has happened.
The police are an unusually
visible presence here.
They've closed the local
branch of Zizzi's.
It is assumed Mr Skripal
and his daughter must have visited
the restaurant on Sunday.
They were then captured on CCTV
walking down this alley.
This footage taken less
than half an hour before
they were found slumped on a bench.
That bench hidden by a tent.
Whatever samples have been recovered
from Mr Skripal and his daughter
in hospital are being analysed
at Porton Down, the chemical
and biological warfare facility
a few miles from here.
It's been reported that
Mr Skripal had voiced concerns
that he could be the subject
of an assassination attempt.
But one family friend told Newsnight
they believe Yulia Skripal was not
worried enough about her own safety.
Both remain tonight in a critical
condition in intensive care.
Mark's still here.
Have you got any more information
about his life in the UK?
I have heard some similar things to
the line that Katie picked up, that
for years, his social life if you
can call it that, revolve largely
around MI6 people who were looking
after him. Apparently they were
frequent visitors and I am told it
is part of what they regard as the
after-care package, that it is a
lifelong bond with someone who has
given information. The daughter and
the sun travels back and forth a lot
and I have heard some indications
that she may have been back, Yulia
that is, for the anniversary last
week, the 1st of March, it was
Sasha's, the Sun's birth date and
that was going to be a particularly
difficult time for Mr Skripal and
that may well be why she was with
him and given him support over those
few days. It may also be that that
was the last time that some of his
friends from British intelligence
were there as well.
Tell me about
the significance of the graves being
From what one can
gather, because he lived in a fairly
isolated way, these were a very
important part of his life. We know
that his son died while in St
Petersburg and clearly efforts were
made to bring the body back to the
UK, so that he could be buried here
and so that Mr Skripal could grieve
at his grave.
Some of the political reaction
and some of the other
recent cases where Russia
was allegedly involved...
Until we get some definite
indication on this, everyone will
make assumptions because of
Litvinenko and some of the other
incidents where people have been
targeted. That is the problem now,
in a way, it may be that there was a
list of 14 compiled as a -- as
suspicious deaths, and because of
what happened, the presumption
immediately goes to Russian
organised crime intelligence
services and was this an
Thank you very much
Earlier I spoke to the Conservative
MP Tom Tugenhadt, chair
of the Foreign Affairs Select
I'm terribly sorry, you have got
your piece first.
It is too early to speculate as to
the precise nature of the crime or
attempted crime that has taken place
in Salisbury yesterday. But I know
members will have their suspicions.
And what I will say to the house is
that if those suspicions proved to
be well founded then this government
will take whatever measures we deem
necessary to protect the lives of
the people in this country, our
values and our freedoms.
statement from the Foreign Secretary
with its reference to crime
committed in Salisbury and
potentially highly embarrassing if
Russia had nothing to do with it.
But borrowers had clearly been
briefed by the police and
intelligence services. The Russian
embassy took umbrage at his
statement, the press secretary
But the Russians have acted before.
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by
the Russian state an inquest ruled
and back case has ended up defining
Anglo Russian relations for the best
part of a decade.
I think it is
inevitable that people will suspect
that Russia is involved and I and
others are being very careful not to
say that we are quite clear that
this was the Russian state,
authorised all the way to the top.
We cannot know that. As I say, I
think Russian protests of innocence
would be more convincing if there
was not this long-term pattern of
using this sort of poisoning as a
way of getting rid of enemies of the
And in addition to the
successful assassinations there have
been other attempts. In 2008, we
reported that MI5 had stopped an
attempt to killed far as Berezovsky.
This man came here to kill me and my
life was in danger here. In
life was in danger here. In 20 13th
Boris Berezovsky did die.
pointed to suicide, but others
believe something else. The early
story about the assassination
attempt at him made us few friends.
When we ran the story saying that
MI5 believed that Litvinenko had
been killed by Russian intelligence
and that they had tried to kill
Boris Berezovsky as well, we came
under pressure. Whitehall officials
tried to persuade us not to run the
story and when we did, Downing
Street disowned it and the Russian
media attacked us for trying to
damage a reset in relations between
Gordon Brown and the then Russian
President. What all that showed was
the kind of conflict there is
between those in the British
Government who want to counter
illegal Russian state activity in
this country and those who would
prefer business to carry on as
usual. The death of another Russian
businessman in Surrey also produced
allegations of foul play. The police
were accused of failing to
investigate properly and the
government of wanting to avoid a
row. But now there is the case of Mr
Skripal and of evidence of Russian
involvement grows, it will mark a
significant change in its relations
with the UK.
It is an extraordinary
ard joys of victim, it does not just
break the rules, it is an entirely
new game if they are doing this. Mr
Skripal was off the board, he was
living under his own name, he had
been swapped out of Russia, he was
not adopting any kind of public
profile, so this is a breeze in full
on challenge to Britain if Russia is
indeed behind this attempted murder.
These factors do not make you doubt
it was some sort of Russian
It is very hard to
spring, if Russian is behind it it
means they are taking things to a
whole new level. This is perfect
declaration of war to bomb of
someone like that if they did it. It
makes me wonder whether it is for
domestic consumption, they have not
thought through the foreign policy,
do they really want to destroy
relations with Britain and the West,
because that is what will happen if
it turns out this was
Traders will kick the bucket, trust
He even referred to the man sent
to assassinate Trotsky. Just
rhetoric, or state policy. The
investigation in Wiltshire may soon
give us an indication.
Earlier I spoke to the Conservative
MP Tom Tugenhadt, chair
of the Foreign Affairs Select
Was Boris Johnson right
to all but point the finger
at the Russian State?
Well look, I don't think he did
on this particular instance,
but what he did do was point
to a pattern and he is
absolutely right to do that.
Because there is a pattern.
We have seen it in Montenegro,
we have seen it in London
with Litvinenko's murder.
You know, we have seen this,
time and again, where Russian agents
have gone to foreign countries
and used murder as a
means of state policy.
And it is completely unacceptable.
So, do you believe then, that Russia
was involved in this attack,
if indeed it was an attack?
Well look, I don't think he did
on this particular instance,
Well, I don't know at this stage.
All I am saying is, it fits
a pattern, and that raises
enormous amounts of concern.
The Russian response today says,
it looks like the script
of an anti-Russian campaign has
already been written.
Well, look, the job
of the Russian Embassy is to defend
the interests of the Russian state,
including by desimulating
and using stories, when the truth
does not fit and they have been very
good at that over a number of years
and it does not surprise me
at all but they are saying that
sort of thing.
Sometimes, if it looks like a duck
and it quacks like a duck,
it might just be a duck and in this
case, we have got a poisoning,
we have got a Russian
former intelligence chief,
who defects to the West
and we have now got him
and his daughter in a comatose state
on a bench in Salisbury.
It does somehow fit that pattern.
But do you think that by and large,
the UK has been soft on Russia
and the people that get
to come here?
Look, I think, actually, one thing
that the Foreign Secretary has been
very clear on is the reality
of Russian threatening behaviour,
the malign influence, as he put it,
of Moscow over the last
couple of years.
We have seen that influence
by the way in places like Georgia,
where they have invaded and we have
seen it in Ukraine,
where they changed a European border
by force for the first time
since the Second World War,
by seizing Crimea.
We have seen it in our close ally,
Estonia, where they kidnapped
an Estonian official a couple
of years ago and used cyber attacks
on the economy in 2007.
And so we have seen this pattern
before, what we now need
to see is a harsher,
a more targeted response to Russian
officials who are doing
this and we can do it.
This is why I am so pleased
that the government has passed
an act, we could do a little bit
more to tighten it.
I think that the criminal
financing act that has been
going through the Commons
at the moment is a very important
act, and I would like to see
unexplained wealth orders,
the sort of thing that are regularly
used against ordinary criminals
in the United Kingdom,
used against oligarchs who are pawns
of the Kremlin Mafia regime.
Part of the reason I called
the urgent question
in Parliament today was to give
the Foreign Secretary
the opportunity, that he then very
clearly took, which was to call out
Russia for the malign influence
that she has become in the world.
This is an absolute...
The problem is that then
you have Boris Johnson,
sound and fury, signifying what?
Removal of a couple of officials
from the World Cup?
That is why I am calling
on the government to do more.
I am calling on the government
to use, as I say, unexplained wealth
orders to hit these guys where it
hurts, in the bank balance
and to make sure that they cannot
own property, they cannot move
through our cities, that they cannot
start buying up our assets
as they have been doing.
But I think we can even go further.
We have got two Russian propaganda
channels which are operating
from the United Kingdom,
one based in Edinburgh.
We need to be absolutely
robust and make sure
that they are absolutely complying
with their Ofcom licenses,
which somehow, given
that the way that they report,
strikes me as extremely unlikely.
And I think we need to be absolutely
robust in making sure that the rules
apply absolutely firmly to them.
Do you actually think
that we should ban those stations?
Well, if we can prove
that they are what they certainly
seem to be, then yes,
I think we should.
I see no reason why we should
allow the propagation
of information warfare,
because that is actually what it is.
I know it is politely called fake
news, it isn't fake news,
it is information warfare.
We should call it what it is
and we should stop it.
Very briefly, to this case,
have we let this man down?
I don't know the details of this
case and I am afraid
I cannot comment on it.
What we must do is to make sure,
if there is Russian state collusion
in this, we must make sure
that the response is absolutely
clear and robust and that may mean
expelling some officials,
it may mean sanctioning some
individuals, but it should
certainly mean making sure
that the United Kingdom is not able
to be used by oligarchs and Kremlin
lackeys to launder their stolen
and ill-gotten gains.
Tom Tugenhat, thank you very
much for joining us.
We asked to speak to the Russian
government but no one was available.
I'm joined by Lord McDonald
QC who was director
of Public Prosecutions at the time
of the Litvinenko murder,
and Baroness Pauline Neville Jones
who was Security and Counter
Terrorism minister under
David Cameron, when Theresa May
was Home Secretary.
Good evening. When this happened in
Salisbury everyone automatically
thought about Alexander Litvinenko.
It took so long to resolve that
case. Do you think that the response
of the UK Government was wanting?
did take a long time, at the CPS
with quite quickly announced we
thought there was a strong case
against Andrei Lugovoi and he should
be extradited to stand trial in
London for the murder of Alexander
Litvinenko. But the enquiry
concluded that Andrei Lugovoi was
responsible and another man as well
and it was a Russian state execution
which we had also strongly suspected
and indicated we suspect it. And
also in the view of Sir Roberts,
President Putin had almost certainly
known about this execution. So it
took a long time although we got
there in the end. I hope enquiry
into this case will be swifter in
coming to conclusions whatever they
You are a minister at the
Home Office when Mrs Litvinenko was
trying to get justice, seven years
to get the enquiry, not a great
And this time it has got to
be faster, no doubt about that.
you regret that she had to spend all
that time pushing against Tories may
do did not want to grant an enquiry.
We should learn from past mistakes
and we need to do something faster
and more conclusive. But what has
now happened, and obviously we must
wait to discover what has happened
to this man, but I think we are now
confronting a much bigger question
about our relationship with Russia.
And that is where government policy
now needs to focus.
news service, plotted 14 different
deaths and some may have been
suspicious, some not. But in those
cases do you think that we did not
do enough to prioritise them?
Looking into them? Well I would want
to take them one by one and in the
absence of having done the work of
that kind I'm not prepared to
pronounce on that. But I think we
have a great deal now of evidence
about our relationship with Russia
and Russian behaviour towards the
On that point of those 14
possible cases of possible state
involvement by the Russians, did we
not take this seriously enough,
happy to move to ideas perhaps of
suicide or natural causes. We did
not drill down for various reasons?
These are 14 individual cases and
they must be looked at individually.
What we do know with the Litvinenko
case is the Russian state is
perfectly capable of ordering the
execution on British streets of
British citizen under the protection
of the British state why the foulest
mood. We know they are capable of
that. We have to see what the result
of the toxicology test is but if it
turns out that this man and his
daughter were poisoned as a result
of direction from the Russian state
that would indicate the Russian
state itself is lawless and would
make a catastrophic turning in our
relations with Russia.
are denying any involvement and
recently President Putin talked
about the fact that something like
400 spies were apprehended in Russia
in 2017. So a very dangerous
business on both sides.
dangerous and that is why the
response of the British Government
has to be particularly carefully
calibrated. But we can't have
foreign governments organising
assassinations on British streets
particularly when the mechanism used
is so dangerous to so many people
and the individuals being murdered
are under the protection of our
state. It is not possible for a
state to retain his dignity and
permit that kind of conduct to take
faith without a very robust
You were security and
countered terrorism minister in 2010
when the spy swap took place, Mr
Skripal was involved in that. There
was a programme of rejection but did
we let him down?
We will need to
look into that. On the face of it it
would appear that whatever the
protection was it was not adequate.
Whether the indications of his
security status were such you did
not need to do what appear should
have been necessary, what we now
need to do is a full protection of
unenhanced kind to anyone who may be
in the same situation.
said if this is indeed a
state-sponsored killing then we are
in a completely different footing
with Russia, that we have never been
on a four foot up I would not quite
put it so dramatically but I think
it marks the point where we do need
to change policy.
I do think so.
What we now have to do and not
something the UK does by itself,
what has happened here could happen
in any European or any democratic
society. So we need a long-term
strategy of the kind that we have
not actually thought we needed
really since the Cold War. And we
need something where we put the
proposition to the Russians on one
hand we will defend and detain you
add on the other hand we will engage
on conditions. And we need to
formulate that as Europeans and with
the help of the Americans.
Coming up in the programme...
If you look at social media you see
hundreds of videos and you need to
know where and when each bits of
evidence have been recorded.
architects turned forensic sleuths.
Following the crash
of 2008, the word banker
was akin to an insult
and in the intervening decade
there hasn't been
a discernible improvement
in their social standing.
And sometimes people make no
distinction between the behaviour
of individual banks and the Bank
of England itself.
So tonight as part of an effort
better to reflect the concerns
of the country, the Bank of England
announced that it is setting up
Citizen's Reference Panels in every
region to help inform the decisions
of the Bank itself.
No training in Economics
will be necessary -
in fact it might be a positive
disadvantage - and members will be
as diverse as is humanly possible
which is more than you can say
about the Bank of England itself.
Take the most important committee -
the Monetary Policy Committee -
8 members are white men,
one member is female.
The make-up of the Financial Policy
Committee is even more male.
Its members are almost
exclusively white men,
and there is just one woman.
Add to that, of 67 most
senior roles in the Bank,
just eight are held by women,
according to FT analysis.
I talked to the Bank's Chief
Economist Andy Haldane
about that record.
But first I asked if people
just stopped trusting
the Bank of England,
bankers, and economists
following the crash.
I get the frustration that has
flowed from the crisis.
It was a big one.
It affects everyone's lives.
And it still is, even ten years
on wages are still pretty flat,
I get the frustration.
But what we haven't seen
from the public, and thank
heavens we haven't seen it,
is a complete rejection
of the importance of these issues
and of understanding them.
One of the things we can do
as the bank is to try
and improve their understanding
and indeed our understanding
of those issues as well.
Well, the RSA report suggests
a regional citizens reference panel.
Are you going to agree to that?
Yes, we are.
So we have a whole slew
of initiatives over the course
of the last several years to reach
further, to speak to
a broader set of society.
But what we've said today
is that in the light
of the RSA recommendations,
we have listened, we have thought
carefully about how best
to take the next rung,
if you like, up
the engagement ladder.
And that will mean putting
in place a comprehensive
set of citizens panels,
that agency network.
So across class, diversity, age?
Across all the key dimensions.
Because we want as wide an angle
lens on how the economy
and financial system
is doing as possible.
And these councils are one extra
means of doing that.
Engaging with a cohort of society
that traditionally the bank and most
others have not done.
I wonder how much the Bank
of England truly can reflect
the population when your gender pay
gap is so bad and when your
representation is so bad?
On the Monetary Policy Committee
eight of the nine members are men,
12 of the 13 members
on the financial policy committee
are men and there is very little
ethnic diversity in both.
We need to do better.
We have been absolutely clear
about that on all of the dimensions
of diversity including gender,
including ethnicity and including
the broader dimensions of diversity,
which means thought
and background and experience.
And to some extent these citizens
councils I mentioned can be part
of the answer in bringing different
sort of experiences to the table.
But they can be a human shield?
There are no human shield.
Because I'm just going to throw
another one at you.
In terms of senior female employees,
on average they and 24% less
In terms of senior female employees,
on average they earn 24% less
per hour than male counterparts
at the Bank of England,
according to your first
gender pay gap report.
67 of the most senior roles
in the Bank of England,
eight are held by women.
I mean, how quickly
are you going to turn that round?
Well, we have now targets, on both
the gender and ethnicity side,
that will take us to a better place.
Because the place we start is not
remotely where we want to be.
We are absolutely clear that yes,
we are on the case,
and we will make a difference.
You know, my background is different
than many people here.
Sometimes that has meant,
you know, being here is not
In what way?
Well, you know, I was probably one
of the first vintages that didn't go
to Oxford or Cambridge.
That didn't go to a public school.
That might come at things
from slightly different angles.
The bank I joined might not
have value that is much
The bank I joined might not
have valued that is much
as the Bank of England today.
So people look around and they think
where are we going to put
money, we get nothing
in the banks particularly.
A bit worried about
stocks and shares.
We will try something new,
we will try a crypto currency.
And Mark Carney has talked
about that possible anarchy,
with no regulation.
I mean, does the bank think
that crypto currencies
are essentially dangerous?
There are lots of potential risks.
One of which is the danger
to the consumer from
buying into this stuff.
Andrew Bailey, head
of the Financial Conduct Authority,
has made clear consumers need
to look before they leap.
Very carefully, when it comes
to all matters crypto.
They are not yet of a scale,
less than 1% of global wealth,
that would lead us to conclude
I think that they pose
a systemwide threat.
They won't bring down the banks,
not least because the banks
are much better capitalised
than they were a decade ago.
When things grow rapidly,
whether it is unsecured
debt or crypto currency,
we keep a careful eye.
Would you ever buy into a crypto
as a little flutter?
I think not.
I'm afraid I'm a chronically
risk averse investor.
And far be it from me
to offer any independent
financial advice to anyone.
Finally, do you think
in the coming, say three decades,
we are going to have to really
rethink the nature of work
and what work means in our society,
the connection between work and pay?
In the past 300 years we have
sort of stapled together
the notion of work and pay.
Work need not
necessarily involve pay.
Voluntary work is still work
and with the rise of the robots,
we might find more work taking
a voluntary form.
As well as requiring skills,
you know, social skills.
Interpersonal skills, negotiation,
relationship holding, empathy.
Much more of the world of work
will I think in future draw upon not
just our heads and our hands
but also our hearts.
The key point here is that we have
dealt historically with industrial
revolutions by putting in place
new frameworks and new institutions.
All revolutions bring new jobs
and this will be no different.
Andrew Haldane, thank you very much.
Thank you, Kirsty.
They're a team of sleuths
who use sophisticated
technology to crack crimes -
but they're not an elite
squad of detectives.
In fact, they're architects,
and they operate out
of a London college.
as they're known, analyse social
media data to investigate possible
human rights abuses and war crimes
on behalf of victims,
charities and activist groups.
They decline to work
for governments and the police,
but they insist they follow
where the evidence leads them.
Ahead of an exhibition
of their work opening
at the ICA in London tomorrow,
Forensic Architecture have been
talking about their work
to Stephen Smith.
This is where art meets activism.
Believe it or not, this is a visual
expression of data harvested
from technology such as mobile
phones and cameras.
It's the raw material used
in an emerging discipline known
as Forensic Architecture.
From this office at Goldsmiths
College in London this team's
retained by charities and human
rights groups to investigate
alleged crimes and abuses.
Are they sure they're architects?
We consider ourselves investigators
and definitely there is an aspect
there that is quite thrilling
in terms of figuring
out what has happened.
The team's been working for a German
NGO which has been accused of people
smuggling in the Mediterranean.
Italian prosecutors have claimed
these images showed the NGO
was towing a craft to the Libyan
coast to collect migrants.
Forensic Architecture analysed
the movements of waves in the wind
and claim this casts doubt
on the prosecutor's argument.
Although the case is ongoing.
What this shows is that the boat
was actually being towed,
let's say perpendicular
to the direction of the waves.
Then the second thing that we did
was compare this analysis
with wind data from that day.
And so what you see here is that
once you put this image
with the north on top,
the boat was being towed
actually North West.
And not South as alleged
by Italian prosecutors.
You follow the evidence and the data
where it leads, presumably.
And if this had suggested
that the NGO was at fault
in some way, you would have
revealed that, too?
Well, of course.
I mean, you know, we just
like basing our analysis
on the materials that we have
and we follow the evidence,
let's say, right?
The modern battlefield
or war zone is often urban
and surveyed by social media.
As an exhibition of their work opens
at the ICA, Forensic Architecture
say they scour this data
to challenge official government
or military accounts
of controversial incidents.
If you look simply at social
media you'd see hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds
of videos posted online.
They provide a lot of material,
but not always more clarity.
In order to gain clarity you need
to start composing a story.
You need to know where
and when each one of those bits
of evidence was recorded.
And therefore you can start
combining them and tell
a story of that day.
Governments have approached Forensic
Architecture for their help.
They always say no.
Governments have enough means
to undertake investigations,
They don't need our
help in that way.
Civil society groups,
human rights groups,
communities who have been perfect
fit, I'm looking for,
communities who have been
affected, I'm looking for,
they are needing our help.
That presumably doesn't make
you too popular with some
quite powerful people?
Yes, I don't think we seek to be
popular with those groups.
But we believe that civil
society needs independent
means of investigation.
It is not good enough for us
to simply call for an independent
enquiry or investigation.
We actually believe that right now
with the technology that we have
and with a wealth of material that
emerges out of conflict zones
and areas where human rights
violations are being undertaken,
that we have the evidence to
undertake investigations ourselves.
Working from leaked photographs
of the crime scene,
we constructed a digital model
of the Internet cafe.
The team investigated a racist
murder in an Internet cafe
in Germany, recreating the scene
to try and establish
what exactly those present
would have seen and heard.
Their evidence was submitted
to Parliamentary inquiries.
Whatever this art exhibition is,
it's a long way from
old Masters and sunflowers.
I think although it is strong
in art, the ICA has always been also
a place for counterculture
to the official narratives.
So therefore if you call it activism
or look at contemporary culture
through a political eye,
the Institute of contemporary
Art since its founding
in 1947 by Herbert Read,
was always a political,
engaged and outspoken organisation.
Few could have imagined
that the data generated
by smartphones and ubiquitous
cameras would lead to
the extraordinary practice
of Forensic Architecture.
Steve Smith. The front pages. The
Telegraph, Vladimir Putin swore
revenge on the Russian spy.
revenge on the Russian spy. Then
moving onto Guardian.
moving onto Guardian. Neighbours say
the man gave no hint of his past in
espionage. Enquiries stepped up as
the Foreign Secretary warns the
Kremlin. Moving on to the sun.
That's it for tonight.
We leave you with a trip to one
of the diving world's
most beautiful spots,
Manta Point in Tahiti.
According to Rich Horner
who filmed himself there,
this was recorded on Saturday.
See if you can spot an actual Manta.
In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark. The latest on the Salisbury spy, the Bank of England and elitism, plus the social media crime detectives.